Many of us in the business community who have been working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic have wondered, “Can this work longterm?”

I recently watched a TED Talk by career analyst Dan Pink about a Results Only Work Environment, or ROWE, and it solidified for me that the answer is, yes. As long as the ROWE standards are followed and the corporate culture is understood by all the employees, it could work.

Many of us in the business community who have been working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic have wondered, “Can this work longterm?”

I recently watched a TED Talk by career analyst Dan Pink about a Results Only Work Environment, or ROWE, and it solidified for me that the answer is yes. As long as the ROWE standards are followed and the corporate culture is understood by all the employees, it could work.

ROWE is a strategy that focuses on the output of employees rather than how many hours they work each day — making quite a shift from the traditional workplace environment.

ROWE is a corporate culture initiative designed to improve employee productivity, accountability and engagement. It respects the value of a diverse employee base by empowering people to work in whatever way they are most productive. In a ROWE, the emphasis shifts from how and when work is done to the results delivered. Employees are held accountable for their specific piece of the business.

ROWE, when properly implemented, can make teams more accountable for results and allow employees to eliminate work that’s not productive. Employees have more flexibility in their schedules as long as their work gets done.

ROWE in no way means the employees are not part of a team; this includes being accessible to their teams and being available to provide exceptional service delivery to meet organizational goals. This includes the use of technology letting them be accessible to customers and coworkers.

I mentioned that ROWE standards must be followed in order to make this work. For starters, people are expected to be where they need to be when needed, based on agreed-upon results and measures. Managers address performance issues, not the number of hours worked.

Some ROWE employers do require that employees spend at least half their working hours in the office and are held accountable to results. In many ROWE environments, vacation or time off is unlimited as long as results are achieved. However, every person is 100% autonomous and is expected to make the right decisions about how, when and where they work in order to achieve results. Every person is 100% accountable to achieving clear results.

ROWE is not a program. The focus is always on clear, measurable expectations and managing performance while expecting employees to work together to achieve targets and maintain service excellence. Non-performance is quickly addressed and if it continues means termination of employment. Performance management and performance conversations are ongoing and not relegated to a quarterly, bi-annual or annual review process. However, quarterly ROWE reviews should be held with all team members.

The Vail Valley Partnership in Eagle County, Colorado, an organization similar to the Sanford Area Growth Alliance, works on the ROWE concept. Partnership President Chris Romer says, “Monthly benchmarks are established and employees are required to provide a monthly update to their manager. Benchmarks are performance criteria to help achieve success for each position within the organization, but are not results; benchmarks are established to provide a roadmap to success and help identify productivity opportunities and obstacles.”

Have COVID-19 work practices changed your organization’s mindset on employee management and/or teleworking? It’s an innovative thought that may just work for you and your employees.